Nottingham City Council vindicated over adoption of disabled girl

Judges have thrown out a mother’s claim that she was denied a fair hearing before her disabled daughter was put up for adoption.

The mother, in her 20s, argued she had been let down by Nottingham City Council, which secured the adoption of the two-year-old, and the “secretive” family justice system.

With the backing of Birmingham MP, John Hemming, the woman claimed she had not been allowed to defend herself during adoption proceedings and was “basically a spectator” at a crucial court hearing.

The lack of a fair hearing and the enforced adoption had infringed her human rights, she said.

Yesterday, Appeal Court judges dismissed all her complaints, saying the evidence was all one way and the adoption had been “inevitable”.

Lord Justice Wall, sitting with Lord Justice Thorpe, said the family justice system was frequently accused of secrecy, corruption and malpractice.
But he told the court in London: “This case offers an opportunity to demonstrate just how ill-informed those criticisms can be”.

The girl, identified only as “K”, who suffers from various disabilities, had been in foster care since being born prematurely to the appellant when she was aged 21 and her father, a man in his 60s.

In August last year, Judge Butler QC, sitting at Nottingham County Court, made a care order for the girl, which opened the way for the City Council to arrange her adoption.

In dismissing the mother’s claim that she was denied a fair hearing, Lord Justice Wall said the mother was not “either treated badly or dismissed out of hand by the local authority as a carer for K”.

“The care and placement orders were the right – indeed, the only – course open to the judge in the interests of K,” he added.

Referring to a report from the local Children’s Resource Centre, the judge said the mother had shown “a negative attitude towards professionals, especially social workers,” with her “derogatory remarks and verbal threats” becoming “progressively worse”.

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